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Oscar: Shanghai SIPG move “90 percent” complete

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The Chinese Super League continues to dish out big bucks in acquiring the world’s biggest stars, and another Brazilian attacker could be making his way east.

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Chelsea attacker Oscar is “90 percent” certain that a move to Chinese side Shanghai SIPG will occur after a reported $76 million offer has been sent to the Blues for their Brazilian playmaker.

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Reports surfaced on Tuesday linking the 25-year-old to China, which would become Chelsea’s most lucrative sale in club history.

“It’s 90 percent right. It just depends on some bureaucratic details,” Oscar told Brazilian network Globo.

Oscar has previously been a target of interest by Chinese sides, with the Brazilian nearly completing a move to Jiangsu Suning in February for a reported $72 million.

The Brazilian has yet to score for Chelsea in 2016, despite making eight Premier League appearances for Antonio Conte‘s side. Oscar has spent the last four-and-a-half years with the Blues.

If Oscar does complete a move China, he’ll be following in the footsteps of several other high-profile Brazilians such as former Chelsea midfielder Ramires, Hulk and Alex Teixeira.

Andre Villas-Boas replaces Eriksson as Shanghai SIPG coach

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SHANGHAI (AP) Former Chelsea and Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas will replace Sven-Goran Eriksson as coach of Shanghai SIPG, making him the latest top name in the big-spending Chinese Super League.

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The 39-year-old Villas-Boas is “young, full of passion and with a wealth of coaching experience,” the club said in a statement on its official Weibo microblog.

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“We believe Villas-Boas’ arrival will further enrich the team’s technical and tactical play, stimulate the potential of more young players, and lead the team closer to a higher goal,” the club said.

Villas-Boas made his mark at FC Porto and had stints in charge at Chelsea and Tottenham in the Premier League before moving to Zenit St. Petersburg in Russia. Unconfirmed reports put his salary at about $14 million.

Eriksson guided Shanghai SIPG to runner-up and third-place finishes in the Chinese Super League in his two seasons and to the quarterfinals of the Asian Champions League.

Clubs in the Chinese Super League spent more than $400 million on foreign players in 2016, while high-profile coaches including Eriksson, Luiz Felipe Scolari and Manuel Pellegrini have also lifted the international profile of the league.

Among the high-priced imports brought to SIPG is Brazil international Hulk, whose $62 million transfer fee from Zenit St. Petersburg set an Asian record. That topped the $56 million Jiangsu Suning paid this year for Brazilian midfielder Alex Teixeira. Guangzhou Evergrande paid $47 million for Colombia striker Jackson Martinez.

Hulk played under Villas-Boas at Zenit St. Petersburg and SIPG management will be looking to the combination to help challenge the supremacy of the Scolari-helmed Guangzhou Evergrande, who have won the league for the last six seasons.

Dynamo Moscow relegated for first time in 93-year history as CSKA wins Russian league

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The Russian Premier League wrapped up play on Saturday, and while CSKA Moscow celebrated its sixth league title, there was a much more historical event happening at the other end of the table.

Dynamo Moscow was relegated after a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Andre Villas Boas and Zenit St. Petersburg. It is the first time the club has fallen out of the top flight in their 93-year club history.

The giants of the Soviet era have won 11 league titles in its history, although none since 1976. They finished third in 2008 and have ended up fourth in three of the past four seasons. However, with just a single point over its final nine games of the year, Dynamo plummeted to 15th in the 16-team table, dooming them to the lower leagues.

With sanctions from Financial Fair Play, the club had to cut spending last summer, but still had a vastly experienced roster of domestic players including Igor Denisov, owner of 52 caps for his home country, plus other experienced players like Pavel Pogrebnyak, Chris Samba, Tomas Hubocan, Andrey Eshchenko, and Aleksey Kozlov.

Meanwhile, Dynamo’s cross-town rivals CSKA won the league with a 1-0 victory over Rubin Kazan on a 16th minute goal from Alan Dzagoev, finishing with 65 points. They needed a win to hold off surprise challengers FC Rostov, who finished two points back thanks to a win of their own on the final day. Both CSKA and Rostov make the Champions League as a result.

AVB and Zenit managed third with 59 points, sending them to the Europa League group stages next season. There could be some other big names going down as well, with both Anzhi Makhachkala and Kuban Krasnodar – European participants in very recent seasons – to play in the relegation playoffs against lower league clubs.

Zenit falls 10 points back in Russian Premier League play

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Andre Villas-Boas could be in serious trouble.

His club has just two losses in the season, both back in August, but another draw for Zenit St. Petersburg on Saturday has left the Portuguese manager a whopping 10 points off the top of the table, and five back of a Champions League position.

A 2-2 road finish against Kuban Krasnodar caused Zenit to fall well shy of the top of the table, also losing Javi Garcia at halftime due to injury. CSKA Moscow holds the top spot after a 3-2 home win over FC Ural, while Lokomotiv Moscow pulled further ahead in second position with a 2-1 derby win over Spartak Moscow Sunday morning.

That leaves Zenit well back in third, largely due to their inability to turn draws into wins, with three draws in their last four league matches.

Villas-Boas has made some moves recently that have the look of a manager in desperation. After much public pressure he (not undeservingly) benched incumbent starting goalkeeper, Russian international Yuri Lodygin in favor of backup Mikhail Kerzhakov who has been back and forth between the reserve squad, loan spells, and the first team in recent years.

The 38-year-old manager has had a rough go of things in Russia, and he announced back in September that this year would be his last in charge of Zenit, an odd move to begin with. But will he even make it to May? Not if his club continues to flounder.

Villas-Boas to quit as Zenit coach at end of season

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MOSCOW (AP) — Andre Villas-Boas says he will quit as Zenit St. Petersburg coach at the end of the season after he was blocked from leaving in the summer.

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The Portuguese coach won the Russian Premier League with Zenit last season in his first full campaign, but his time in St. Petersburg has swiftly turned sour and he is currently serving a six-game ban for assaulting a match official.

European media linked Villas-Boas with major clubs in various countries, including Real Madrid, but he says Zenit management refused to let him resign.

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Villas-Boas says in comments on Zenit’s website that he has refused a contract extension and that “at the end of the season I will leave the club.”